Jurassic 5 Ogden Theatre : 8:00 p.m. July 21; 8:00 p.m. July 22 More than misogyny or materialism, intelligence and verbal skill are championed by Jurassic 5; the vocabulary is impressive and the verbal acrobatics the guys perform are outstanding. J5 carries the energy and excitement of a newer era group but bring the flavor of an old hip-hop act (the crew strongly echoes the legendary Cold Crush Brothers), and it follows musical cues that are classic in the truest sense.
Nick Waterhouse Bluebird Theater : 8:00 p.m. July 21 Nick Waterhouse is more retro-minded than many musicians, but the singer-guitarist has turned his love of the past into a way of discovering who he is in the here and now. "You become something on the way there," he says about the various ways he's incorporated the influence of idols Mose Allison and Van Morrison into his own music. Wearing oversize spectacles and formal suits, Waterhouse slightly resembles Buddy Holly, while the cover art of his second album, Holly, evokes Herb Alpert and Ladies of the Canyon. The Orange County-raised singer, however, is more about vintage soul and R&B on such uptempo, horn-pumped numbers as "This Is a Game." Amid the Hammond-like organ, stylishly clipped guitar accents and overall early-'60s vibe of "High Tiding," Waterhouse urges, "Come close and see something moving in me."
Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:00 p.m. July 21; 7:00 p.m. July 22 In September 1989, Soundgarden released its major-label debut on A&M, the exhilaratingly harrowing Louder Than Love. A little over a month later, Nine Inch Nails' dark and brilliant debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, came out on TVT. Neither broke huge in the mainstream, but both helped to define what would become alternative music in the '90s. Both bands wrote about confusion, desperation and pain, as well as the triumphant determination to weather life's hardships, and they did it with poetry and uncommon honesty. Though not a pioneer of industrial music, Trent Reznor brought that aesthetic into the mainstream without compromising his own artistic vision. Soundgarden, though associated with grunge, had its roots in Seattle's punk scene and has put out consistently vital records, including 2012's comeback album, King Animal. These twin juggernauts of the alternative-rock era are no dinosaurs live, and shouldn't be missed.
Hard Working Americans (with Jason Isbell) Boulder Theater : 8:00 p.m. July 22 An alt-country supergroup of sorts, Hard Workings Americans includes singer Todd Snider, Dave Schools (bassist of Widespread Panic), Neal Casal (guitarist of The Chris Robinson Brotherhood), Chad Staehly (keyboardist of Great American Taxi) and drummer Duane Trucks (of King Lincoln and of the Trucks family lineage). In January, the group released its self-titled debut, which is comprised entirely of covers by the likes of Randy Newman, Lucinda Williams, Kevin Gordon, Hayes Carll, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings.